Apple M1 Max chip – all about Apple’s most powerful M1 yet

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Apple’s M1 Max chip is the bigger and more powerful sister of Apple’s new M1 Pro chip, and although both launch in 2021, the M1 Max is clearly the next higher level of Apple silicon.

The M1 Max and M1 Pro are more powerful versions of the M1 chip, which itself blew us away in 2020 with how much it improved the performance and efficiency of the 13-inch MacBook Pro M1 and MacBook Air M1.

Now the M1 Pro and M1 Max are available for purchase in the new 2021 Apple MacBook Pro 14-inch and 2021 16-inch MacBook Pro laptops, and this new generation of bespoke Apple chips promises to push the boundaries of what can be. be done on a MacBook.

These two new 2021 MacBook Pro models come with an M1 Pro chip by default, but you can pay extra to upgrade to an M1 Max model. While we will have to wait until we can put these new MacBooks through our test and review process to find out how the M1 Max models perform compared to other laptops, based on specs alone, we’re already very excited about the potential. of these. new chips.

Here’s everything you need to know about the new M1 Max.

Apple M1 Max chip: price and release date

The M1 Max is currently only available as an upgrade for the new 2021 MacBook Pros, which are available to order now from Apple website. Prices start at $ 1,999 for the 14-inch model and $ 2,499 for the 16-inch. They start shipping on October 25 and come in two color variations: Silver or Space Gray.

MacBook Pro 2021 on pastel background

Both 14-inch and 16-inch 2021 MacBook Pros can be configured with M1 Pro or M1 Max (Image credit: Apple | Nick Bush Remix)

Both models come with an entry-level M1 Pro chip by default, but you can pay more to upgrade to a beefier M1 Pro or M1 Max. You can order the 14-inch and 16-inch MacBook Pros with multiple configurations of the M1 Pro and M1 Max, so your screen size preferences don’t limit the chips you can order.

To give you an idea of ​​how much extra you’ll pay for M1 Max power, it costs around $ 900 to upgrade from the entry-level 14-inch MacBook Pro to the cheaper model with an M1 Max chip ($ 2,899) , and around $ 600 to go from the entry-level 16-inch 2021 MacBook Pro to a model with an M1 Max ($ 3,099). So in general, expect to pay at least $ 600 to $ 900 more (minimum) to upgrade your 2021 MacBook Pro to an M1 Max model.

Apple M1 Pro Chip: Specifications

The M1 Max features a larger version of the same basic architecture that we saw in the M1 Pro and the original M1. These are all SoCs (system-on-chip), which means they are designed to integrate the CPU and GPU together and allow them to tap into the same pool of unified RAM, all in the name of increased efficiency. and reduced latency.

(Image credit: Apple)

The M1 Max has 57 billion transistors (more than three times more than the original M1) and a 10-core processor with eight performance cores and two efficiency cores. It supports up to 64 GB of memory and has a memory bandwidth of up to 400 GB / second.

M1 Max

(Image credit: M1 Pro at the Apple event)

The M1 Max also has a 16-core neural engine to speed up machine learning tasks. This engine also facilitates image processing (via a custom image signal processor) for the 1080p webcam built into the 2021 MacBook Pros, helping them deliver sharper, more natural photos and videos.

But it’s in the GPU that the M1 Max really shines. The M1 Max can have up to a 32-core GPU, and Apple claims it can deliver graphics performance up to 4x faster than the M1. Given how impressed we were with the performance of the M1 in 2020, the M1 Max promises to deliver unprecedented graphics processing power in a laptop chip.

Apple M1 Max Chip: Video Editing Features

If you work in video editing, Apple has incorporated some features especially designed for you into the M1 Max. Notably, there is a media engine designed by Apple specifically to speed up video processing without draining your battery.

The chipset also has a dedicated encoding engine and of them decode media engines designed to speed up rendering and other video work. It also has two dedicated ProRes video accelerators, which should be a big help for professionals who work with ProRes video on a regular basis.

MacBook Pro 2021 at the Apple event

(Image credit: Apple via YouTube)

In terms of output performance, Apple claims the M1 Max can deliver up to 7 simultaneous streams of 8K ProRes video playback. So if you’re a video editor who really wants to push the boundaries of what you can do with a MacBook Pro, the M1 Max is probably for you. Additionally, if you are working with multiple monitors, note that the M1 Max has a new display engine capable of supporting up to four additional external displays.

Apple M1 Max Chip: Outlook

The M1 Max is the most powerful bespoke piece of silicon we’ve ever seen from Apple, and a solid argument as to why a company should invest in custom chip design to complement its line of hardware and software.

While the M1 Max is an expensive upgrade, it promises unmatched power for on-the-go video editing. If it’s as good as it sounds, Apple will have a competitive edge that other laptop makers can’t match.

Even if you’re not interested in video editing, Apple promotes the M1 Max (and its weaker sibling, the M1 Pro) as more powerful and energy efficient than Intel and AMD laptops, which make up the lion’s share of computers. MacBooks are rarely considered serious gaming machines, but the power of the M1 Max can give the 2021 MacBook Pros enough graphics power to compete with some of the best gaming laptops on the market.

However, we’ll have to wait until we’re done comparing the new MacBook Pros for ourselves to find out exactly how the M1 Pro and M1 Max fare compared to other chips on the market. Stay tuned!


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